When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers

It’s 2 am and I’m sitting with a screaming child who can’t understand why in the world they’re awake when it’s pitch black out. Time zone changes and international travel will do that to ya, baby girl. It’s a whole lot of confusing and we’re just trying to get through the night.

Which is all fine because honest truth is I’m too disappointed, too much wrestling with God right now to get much sleep. And I feel like Jacob, wrestling in the night, refusing to let go until he’s blessed.

So I sit there on the edge of the bed, praying for my girls and praying over this thing that’s weighing down my heart and filling me with what I’m sure is righteous holy anger. I think that maybe if I storm the gates of heaven tonight, if I wrestle and refuse to let go, that I’ll see an answer in the morning. We all drift to sleep eventually, just sure that the morning is going to bring some sanity to all this.

Yeah, the morning comes and the girls are slightly less on edge and that answer to prayer?

It doesn’t come.

I stormed the heavens and my reasons were right and good and I threw every scripture promise I knew at God as a reminder that if He wanted, He is able.

And that answer didn’t come.

At least not the answer I wanted. Because He always answers. Ask First Girl and she’ll tell you that Abba either says Yes, No or Not Now. But He always answers.

That part isn’t hard for me to get. Even a four year old is grasping that basic theology. It’s the actual answer, the accepting of the answer, that is still a hard hard lesson for this weary soul to swallow.

Like why doesn’t God heal the man with three daughters who watch their giant of a father whither away from cancer?

Why doesn’t God restore the marriage of yet another couple who just can’t seem to get on the same page?

Why does God leave some wombs barren even as thousands of babies are being murdered in other wombs yearly? And what of the trafficking of innocents? The beatings, the assaults, the breaking hearts and broken homes?

Once you get going, you can find it hard to stop with the list of seemingly unanswered prayers. Or rather, prayers answered in ways that don’t fit our neat boxes and Hollywood endings.

Abba patiently waits for a break in my rant and quietly whispers, “Are you done yet?”

And in this moment, I see I’m more like my two-year old when she hears, “No,” rather than a woman who has tasted manna from heaven and walked through sea-parting miracles.

Because for every prayer that doesn’t get answered the way I asked, how many heartbeat whispers does He hear that I forget I’ve even uttered?

Like when Baby Girl fell down a flight of stairs last month and I thought for sure I’d be calling my husband to say we lost her. And yet she’s just fine and I’m not mourning another babe gone this week.

Or what about prayers where I pleaded and begged for the hard to go away and instead, He picked me up as we pressed into the hard together.

Like back in the summer of 2014 when the money was gone and I’m begging for one more month of rent? Another “No,” and we start out on the craziest journey of our lives, only to watch our faith get deeper by miles and see the daily gifts of a God who sees and loves and knows us.

Or the fact that I first started drafting this from an apartment in Malta because My Man finally had work, and not just any work: life giving, gospel telling, soul shaping work that is beyond what we prayed for these last three years.

I’m still disappointed and wishing there were different answers, “better” answers to some of my prayers and yet I have to say with the Psalmist, “I’ll let my words be few….”

Because I don’t know and I can’t fathom and the one prayer I can say in earnest is thank you that I’m not God and You are. Because He works miracles in the dark, and brings life where there is death and can turn a dead-end into just a turn in the road.

I cannot do that and nor begin to see beyond the bend so instead, I’ll just keep praying, “Thy will be done,” through the dark nights and into the dawning day.

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3 thoughts on “When God Doesn’t Answer Your Prayers

  1. Joanna, this speaks to me on so many levels. Thank you for the honest outpouring of your soul, for sharing your fears and doubts alongside your triumphs. It is the power of the hurt paired with the healing that brings about revolution in the hearts of man. Thank you. xo

    Like

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